School blasted as chiefs say lesson time wasted

Montgomery High School, Bispham.
Montgomery High School, Bispham.
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A Blackpool school has been rated ‘inadequate’ by government inspectors in its first Ofsted inspection since it became an academy.

Montgomery High School, in Bispham, was given a ‘good’ rating as a secondary school before it transformed to an academy just two years ago.

Inspectors said teachers were not challenging pupils enough so students were not making enough progress, and were failing to ensure pupils were getting a good education.

In a damning Ofsted report, the inspectors say: “Teaching overall is insufficiently challenging.... this has led to widespread underachievement across a number of subjects, including mathematics and science.

“Disabled students and those with special educational needs make inadequate progress because teachers do not always provide appropriate support for these students.”

They blame insufficient monitoring of the teachers on whether they are following school procedures, leading to “widespread discrepancies” which the pupils take advantage of knowing they will not be challenged.

They say teaching in the earlier years of the secondary school, on All Hallows Road, was “particularly weak”, where students were expected to complete work already covered in primary school.

The report criticises teachers for not challenging pupils who arrive late to classes.

It adds: “Students do not always arrive punctually to lessons because they know that not all teachers will follow the school policy and challenge them.

“As a result, too much lesson time is wasted as teachers have to repeat instructions and explanations to latecomers.”

Under leadership and management the inspectors say: “School leaders at all levels, including governors, have not pulled together and acted with sufficient urgency in response to the poor examination results in 2013.

“Some staff have let the school down by not pulling their weight to ensure all students get a good education.”

But the school was praised for its English department, which the report says “bucks the trend” in the school.

Inspectors noted attendance had improved at Montgomery and also praised the school for its extra-curricular activities.

Headteacher Simon Brennand was unavailable to speak to The Gazette when approached to answer questions on the school’s decline since converting to Academy status in 2012, how standards had dropped significantly since the last inspection particularly with regard to teaching and pupils’ attitude to their education.

Instead Mr Brennand, in a statement, he said: “I accept that to some people this will be a shock and I am extremely disappointed by the report, as the judgement falls well below the standard that we expect in all aspects of our work at Montgomery.

“Our task now is to use the findings of the report and make the necessary improvements.

“The report recommends that we do more to challenge our students, to have higher expectations of them and to ensure that more students make more progress. This includes the need for more challenging and flexible teaching and more effective monitoring.

“I am keen to reassure students and parents that this work is well under way and that a robust action plan has been developed to tackle each and every point raised in the report.

“The central aim of this action plan is to become a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ school as soon as possible.”

Mr Brennand said he was pleased with the “glowing” praise Montgomery had received, particularly for its English department.

The pupils were also praised for being “invariably pleasant and polite”.

He added: “We are determined to build upon these strengths as we strive to secure the necessary improvements in key areas of our work.

“We are focused entirely on moving forward to improve the school.

“I am intensely proud to be headteacher of Montgomery High School and keen to reassure all members of the school community that I am entirely clear on the ways in which the school needs to improve.

“We must all play our part and I have great confidence in our capacity to work together to achieve this.”

He said he was grateful for the support of parents and friends of the school who praised it to inspectors.